Swine Flu Vaccine Fears Debunked
Oct. 23, 2009 — With school closings, a run on face masks, and even a flu-tracker iPhone app, it’s clear that swine flu is taking the country by storm.
As of this month, the flu, now called the 2009 H1N1 influenza, was widespread among people of all ages in 41 states, and it has been reported in all 50. Numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are unusually high for this time of year. And the situation is likely to get worse.
To stem the pandemic, the U.S. government is urging just about everyone older than 6 months to get the H1N1 vaccine as doses of the shot and nasal spray eventually become available for more than just high-risk groups.
Yet, while some people are waiting for hours in line to get themselves or their children vaccinated, others are avoiding it — convinced that the H1N1 vaccine is unnecessary or even unsafe. Scientists are fighting hard to tackle those misconceptions.
“These are urban myths and you can’t even track them down,” said Greg Poland, Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn. “Someone says something that spreads virally from person to person and becomes truth in their minds.”
Here are expert answers to some of the most common concerns.
Concern #1: Swine flu is no big deal. It’s just another example of media hype.